Finance workers in Portugal and Spain will take to the streets in Lisbon and Madrid on 8 February to demand better wages as their purchasing power plumets and bank profits soar.
The demonstrations are being organized in a coordinated show of action by unions including UNI Global Union affiliates Mais, SBC and SBN in Portugal, and CCOO SERVICIOS and UGT FESMC in Spain.
In Portugal, unions are demanding a 6 per cent pay increase, job security and an end to job cuts that pile the pressure on workers and negatively impact customers.
“We cannot accept being treated as mere pawns in a game where true human value is being disregarded. We urge the managements of all credit institutions and the regulatory authorities to take these demands seriously, as they are essential to keeping the banking sector healthy and fair. Enough of being seen as numbers on spreadsheets – we are human beings with lives, families and dignity,” said a joint statement from UNI’s Portuguese affiliates.
Strikes in Spain
As well as the demonstration in the Spanish capital on 8 February, Spanish unions have announced a 2-hour strike on 26 February and a 24-hour strike on 22 March. Unions are in the process of negotiating new collective agreements in the financial sector, yet employers are refusing to meet the fair demands for a pay increase and better working conditions.
“Unfortunately,” the unions say, “[The banks…] are stalling, presenting proposals that are light years away from their profits, from the pay increases given to senior management and, above all, from what workers demand and deserve.”
Banco Santander generated €11.076 million in profit in 2023 (a 15 per cent increase from 2022 in the global market; including a 52 per cent profit increase in Spain). BBVA saw a 26 per cent increase from 2022, with a profit of €8.019 million. At the same time, bank workers’ wages have been continuously undermined by inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.
Angelo Di Cristo, Head of UNI Finance said:
“We stand by our Portuguese and Spanish affiliates as they fight for fair wages, adequate staffing and good working conditions. We must unite in pushing back against downward pressure from shareholders who want to squeeze every last drop from workers in order to maximize profits. It is simply not sustainable and ultimately both workers and customers suffer.”